Insider Reveals How Close Bills Came to Landing Christian McCaffrey

Christian McCaffrey

Getty Christian McCaffrey runs the ball in a game against the Buffalo Bills.

The Buffalo Bills were prepared to make a significant offer to the Carolina Panthers for running back Christian McCaffrey before ultimately losing out to the San Francisco 49ers, an insider shared.

Many NFL experts believed the Bills would be a top suitor for the All-Pro running back, who would provide a major boost to Buffalo’s struggling running game. McCaffrey ultimately went west, with the Panthers dealing him to the 49ers for a hefty package of draft picks that included 2023 second-, third- and fourth-round selections along with a fifth-round pick in 2024.

In the end, the Bills may not have been very close to that price, reporter John Wawrow revealed.

Bills Made Smaller Offer on McCaffrey

After the trade was announced, the Associated Press beat writer took to Twitter to share the smaller offer the Bills were willing to make for McCaffrey.

“Hearing the #Bills offered a second-round draft pick for CMC, but weren’t prepared to budge further,” Wawrow tweeted

The 49ers offer came in significantly higher, though may have still been below Carolina’s initial asking price. Fox Sports insider Peter Schrager reported earlier in the week that the Panthers wanted multiple first-round picks for McCaffrey.

The 49ers don’t have a first-round pick in 2023, using it as part of the deal to trade up for Trey Lance. But the package they sent to the Panthers ended up being the equivalent of a first-round, insider Ian Rapoport noted.

Bills Dispute Report of McCaffrey Trade Talks

The Bills pushed back on the report that they offered a second-round pick for McCaffrey, with Wawrow later adding that the team disagreed with the wording of his initial tweet — though he did not say if the substance of the report was incorrect.

Other insiders shared that the Bills had been in discussions with the Panthers and may have discussed his asking price, but never made a formal offer.

“Source with direct knowledge tells me Bills first reached out to Panthers about McCaffrey last Friday but never made an offer”, wrote The Athletic’s Tim Graham. “Price was too high and, as Bills monitored, never came down enough.”

Bills Could Target Other Players

Though they lost out on McCaffrey, the Bills could still be active at the trade deadline. ESPN’s Alaina Getzenberg noted that the Bills have tried to make upgrades at running back, nearly signing J.D. McKissick in the offseason before he ultimately went back to the Washington Commanders. The Bills drafted running back James Cook, but he still plays a smaller role in the offense.

As Getzenberg wrote, the Bills could still be in the mix for a running back.

“The run game has struggled at times, but that’s due to many factors,” Getzenberg wrote. “Finding another back is not a must and only would seem worth doing for a reasonable price if a player with that specific receiver-like skill set comes available. Cam Akers, a 2020 second-round pick, has asked for a trade from the Los Angeles Rams, but he has only 16 receptions in 19 career games.”

The Bills could also have a big move in free agency coming. They have been named as one of the top landing spots for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. when he returns from a torn ACL suffered in last year’s Super Bowl.

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